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Album Review: Shonen Knife - Free Time


SHONEN KNIFE
FREE TIME

(Good Charamel Records)
www.shonenknife.net

Imagine an all-female Japanese punk band for a second. Got it? Good. Chances are the images circling in your brain involve cute lyrics with thick accents and distorted, Ramones-esque guitars. Basically, you've already imagined Shonen Knife circling around your thoughts without even realizing it. Considering the band's lengthy career (spanning several decades now), they're likely responsible for many of the niche genre's conventions, and they keep it up with their 2010 release, Free Time.

The album was released earlier this year in Japan, but an English version of the record drops this Tuesday, August 31 on Good Charamel Records. And it's really just what you'd expect, that pop-punk sound, the accent, and some silly lyrics thrown in for good measure. There are also two bonus tracks with this release; however, these tracks (while a welcome addition) also reveal some of the new album's weaknesses.

In particular, a bonus Japanese version of "Rock N Roll Cake" is included, and it's impossible not to want to compare it to the English one. In the band's native language, the song is just much more raw and aggressive. Translating the track results in a slower song that may be poppier and more accessible but it's also just a little less interesting. Don't get it wrong, Shonen Knife still delivered a great album with the english version of Free Time, but one cannot help but wonder what may have been lost in translation.


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